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Thread: Help with a XT/286

  1. #1

    Default Help with a XT/286

    Hi,
    My problem regards an old IBM XT/286 that I'm trying to get to work again, after nearly 10 years spent in the basement. When I turn it on, it boots up almost correctly, it does the POST, finds the 640k+512k extension memory, and the two floppy drives. And it stops there. If I insert a DOS floppy, it finds it, but it doesn't ever find the two harddrives (c:\ is unknown). I've checked the connexions, and tried a lot of combinations with the different cables, but still no result. My guess is that the controller card where I plug in all the drives must have a problem, since sometimes, it indicates "Controller #0 error".
    What do you think is wrong is it ? Also, I have tried using a controller card of another IBM, an AT/286, but I get no results (but I've heard there were some compatibility issues with certains parts between ATs and XTs...)
    The BIOS asks me what type the harddrives are; one had a sticker on it with "type 5" written on it, and the other one (the "big" 20mo one) had nothing on it, so how could I find this ?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    My best guess is that the 20Mb drive will be 4 Heads, 612 Cylinders, and 17 SectorsPerTrack (Type 2?). That geometry is very common among the various 20Mb drives of that vintage. I'm also guessing that you have no problem except a dead CMOS battery. When you figure out the drive type, it should be bootable from the C: drive. That model only supports a very limited number of drive types, so simple trial & error should get you there very easily.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  3. #3

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    Thank you for your answer ! I'll try replacing the CMOS battery as soon as I find one. Also, do you how I can access the BIOS on the AT/286, because it keeps telling me "Memory Error, run SETUP" but I can't seem to go there (whereas I just had to do ctrl+alt+esc on the XT). The rests boots just fine, but apparently I have to configure the extra 512k extension RAM.

  4. #4
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    Those IBM machines do not have a setup program stored in ROM. You have to run the setup program from a disk.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  5. #5

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    Oh, well I'll try and find one of those then...
    ~Thanks for the reply !

  6. #6
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    Default Help with an XT-286

    It sounds like you are having some of the problems I was having with my XT-286 a few weeks ago. In my case the battery was dead and so the CMOS had lost all the BIOS settings. I used the GSETUP31 utility, which can be obtained from http://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/50318.html.

    This utility will allow you to specify [1]Time, [2]Date, [3]Floppy A, [4]Floppy B, [5]HD1 C:, [6]HD2 D:, [6]Base memory, [7]Expansion Memory, [8]Math Coproc and [9]Display.

    Using GSETUP31 is quite straightforward, and if you know the Type number of your hard disk then once you have entered that number and restarted your XT-286 it should access the hard disk. (My only reservation about GSETUP31 is its fixed increments for Expansion Memory - they do not allow zero to be set; I had to disconnect the battery to clear the CMOS in order to get this set to 0 after I made the mistake of trying to insert a value.)

    It sounds like you have the Type number for one of your disks (5), and if you don't know the correct Type number of your hard disk you could make an educated guess from the corresponding Cylinders/Heads details that are shown. Hopefully this will allow you to get the C: prompt to appear.

    -- Iain

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks for the tip; I had indeed downloaded that little program which ultimately allowed be to boot to C:. Unfortunatly, I think the CMOS battery died yesterday, seeing as though it gave upon booting an "Error - Options Not Set". But the problem is...even though at first it gave me the opportunity to press F1 to continue, and eventually landed either on the Basic editor or "a:" , now it just gives me the error and stops there; it doesn't even try to boot anymore. I tried replacing both disquette readers, which I suspect were also partially dead (unable to execute anything), and removed the harddrive, but still no effect.

    Should I assume I'm right and replace the CMOS battery ? Cause even though it's a problem, I thought I'd be at least able to boot, and re-set the options manually each time if necessary, but now, this doesn't seem possible anymore...

  8. #8
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    Sometimes power to the CMOS is maintained temporarily by capacitors. You may have to leave the battery out of the machine to allow the caps to bleed-down. A few hours is usually sufficient to reset the CMOS, but make it 24-or-so, just to be safe.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  9. #9
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    Default Help with an XT-286

    Ultimately if you are determined to get this XT-286 running again you are going to want to get a replacement battery. (I was surprised to find how easy it was to get a replacement; I believe it is still used in a number of photographic applications). Once you have a new battery and working CMOS you will be able to set and retain your BIOS settings, which will help eliminate some of the random responses you have experienced at boot up.

    Although my machine did manage to detect a single floppy drive when it's battery wasn't present, it was only able to see a second floppy and access the hard drive with a new battery in place and the correct hard disk Type entered in the CMOS.

    -- Iain

  10. #10

    Default

    From my experiences, the old xt hardware is very sensitive to problems with the cmos battery. You can get an external rectangular cell(3.6v) on ebay, there should be a connector for it on the xt board, that is what I usually do, also, I remove the old presoldered battery, because it can corrode the board.

    Here is the type of battery I am talking about.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/TL-5242-B-200-CM...QQcmdZViewItem

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